Covid-19 and a failed merger alter Yatra’s journey – the offerings look a lot different now

Dhruv Shringi, co-founder and CEO, YatraYatra.com
  • Yatra.com co-founder Dhruv Shringi shared that the platform is evolving from being a travel services provider to a digital services platform.
  • Yatra.com’s latest offerings will focus on the corporate side and small businesses. The company currently has over 800 corporate partners and 20,000 SME customers.
  • But Yatra.com faced more troubles along the way, as it had been struggling even before the coronavirus pandemic, and it walked out of its grand merger with US-based software firm Ebix.
Fourteen years after its launch, Yatra.com, one of India’s popular travel booking platforms, is turning its business around, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Yatra.com co-founder Dhruv Shringi shared that the platform is evolving from being a travel services provider to a digital services platform.

With the travel and tourism industry being severely affected due to the pandemic and travel not being on people’s minds for a long time now, companies like MakeMyTrip and Yatra.com have been looking for ways to survive this phase.

Yatra’s new plan

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Yatra.com’s latest offerings will focus on the corporate side and small businesses. The latest business offerings will include expense management software, Artificial Intelligence-based smart space and safe space solution which will also ensure contact tracing at a workspace, online platform for consumable sourcing for hotel partners and is also working with NanoTech Company – Neo Dot which identifies body temperature with a change in colour and will be helpful in crowded spaces.

“While we are recognising travel recovery will be slow, we are thinking of how we can capitalize on our Yatra network. We are the largest player in the corporate travel space, and have 850 corporate partners and 20,000 SME customers. In the discussions we have had with the CXOs of the companies, all want to digitize their supply chain and everyone wants to move on to a digital sourcing platform given the disruption we have seen in the physical world,” said Shringi.

The founder believes that the market will soon see corporations consolidate towards larger players with stronger balance sheets and technology that can continue to serve them uninterrupted.

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However, it will continue to offer online travel aggregation. Currently, the travel demand in India is at 15-20% of its pre-COVID levels, and Shringi believes that a gradual recovery over six months will be for the travel and hospitality industry. “We have seen demand come back on the OTA platform especially on the B2C side of things. With regards to international flights, it's still relatively early days as the government has announced gradual reopening of the skies. With domestic hotels too at certain pockets we have seen a recovery but occupancy and demand continues to be soft,” he said.

Recovery from not just the economy but also its troubles

But Yatra.com has faced more troubles along the way, as it had been struggling even before the coronavirus pandemic. Its grand merger with US-based software firm Ebix too was called off, and the matter is currently in court. Yatra had filed a case in the state of Delaware, US, against Ebix for a breach of the agreement.

Since the beginning of the year, the Nasdaq listed Yatra has seen its shares fall by over 76%.
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But Shringi said that Yatra has enough cash in the bank to survive this crisis.

“Some of the other initiatives we have taken as part of our long-term strategy, we have placed significant cost cuts. They are the need of the hour and rationalization was important. We are well capitalized, and we have over $48 million in our balance sheet and our burn rate is in the range of about $1.2 million per month,” he said.

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